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Single Family Analysis
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Family Pedigrees
Mis-identified Same-Named People in Wales
Battles and Historical Events
Ancient Welsh Territories
Welshmen in Llydaw, Brittany
The Men of the North
Legendary History Prior to 1st Century BC
Beli Mawr and Llyr Llediath in Welsh Pedigrees
Papers Related to Maxen Wledig
Bartrum's "Pedigrees of the Welsh Tribal Patriarchs"
Britain's Royal Roman Family
The Royal Family of Powys
2nd Powys Royal Dynasty
The Royal Family of Gwynedd
Men Descended from Tudwal Gloff
Royal Family of Gwent/ Glamorgan
Royal Family of Brycheiniog
15 Noble Tribes of Gwynedd
The 5 Plebian Tribes of Wales
Glast and the Glastening
Papers about Rhiryd Flaidd and Penllyn
The Men of Collwyn ap Tangno of Lleyn
Edwin of Tegeingl and his Family
Ednowain Bendew in Welsh pedigrees
Ithel of Bryn in Powys
Idnerth Benfras of Maesbrook
Tudor Trefor and his Family
Trahaearn ap Caradog of Arwystli
The Family of Trahaearn ap Caradog
Cadafael Ynfyd of Cydewain
Maredudd ap Owain, King of Deheubarth
Sandde Hardd of Mortyn
The Floruit of Einion ap Seisyllt
The 5 Dafydd Llwyds of Llanwrin Parish
Cowryd ap Cadfan of Dyffryn Clwyd
Osbwrn Wyddel of Cors Gedol
Bradwen of Llys Bradwen in Meirionydd
Who Was Sir Robert Pounderling?
Sir Aaron ap Rhys
Eidio Wyllt - What Was His Birthname?
Ifor Bach, Lord of Senghenydd
Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys

                         MAXEN WLEDIG AND THE WELSH LEGENDS
                                         By Darrell Wolcott
        Virtually every account of the man whom the Welsh called Maxen Wledig identifies him as Magnus Maximus, the general stationed in Britain who was raised to the purple by his men in 383 and killed in 388.  His most memorable achievement was slaying the Rome-designated Emperor of the West, Gratian, after leaving Britain to invade Gaul.  So that he would not be confused with other Roman Emperors with similar names, even the Pillar of Eliseg refers to the ancestor of Vortigern's wife Severus as "Maximus the king who slew the king of the Romans".
        While the accounts are not precisely in agreement, the fanciful tales spun by Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae and The Dream of Maxen in the Mabinogian both speak of a Roman related to the Emperors (Geoffrey calls him Maximian) who came from Rome to Britain and met Elen, daughter of Eudaf Hen.  The Mabinogian version has him merely sleeping with the young girl, while Geoffrey says they married. Both mention a man called Cynan (one calls him a son of Eudaf, the other a nephew) who went over to Gaul with Maxen's army and was rewarded with lands which the Welsh called Llydaw.  This Cynan is usually nicknamed Meriadoc.
         Pedigrees which mention Eudaf Hen place him in Wales as a king of the Silures.  He occurs seven generations after Caradog ap Bran ap Llyr Llediath[1], the man many identify with the Caraticus[2] who made the gallant stand against the Romans in AD 51. The pedigrees give Eudaf a son named Cynan, whose granddaughter married Coel Hen.[3]  Eudaf's brother, Gereint, is also given a son named Cynan, whose great-grandson was Aldroen of Llydaw.[4] A chronologically stable pedigree can be constructed pulling together all the manuscript citations for these men that points to a birthdate for Eudaf Hen early in the third century, near 230.  If he was "borne down by eld" and "white headed" as described in these stories, yet had a daughter still a virgin, we should expect to find her born c. 280/285.[5] The young Roman "senator", we should think, would be born near 275 and the setting about 300. This is a full two generations earlier than any possible birthdate for Magnus Maximus.  Geoffrey had made his Eudaf contemporary with men he calls great-uncles of Constantine I (thus c. 230)[6] while simultaneously making Eudaf's daughter contemporary with the Maxen killed in 388.  And the Cynan of Geoffrey's tale followed Maxen to Gaul in 383, but within the space of a generation or less, Geoffrey tells of a great-grandson of Cynan being chosen by Britian as its new king.  That man, Constantine, was said to be a younger brother of Aldroen of Llydaw and fourth from Cynan.  Even if we assume Cynan was 55/60 years of age when he left Britain with Maxen, he could hardly have a great-grandson old enough to be a king prior to the reign of Vortigern which began near 425.  But if we see Cynan as a product of the third century, born about 270, Geoffrey's story about him is no longer chronologically impossible.  A great-grandson could occur near 370 who would have been old enough to serve as a king of Britian between 388 and 425; indeed such a man would fit with everything we know of Constantine III who ruled from 407 to 411.  
         Having now posited that both Eudaf Hen and Cynan must have lived at least 70 years before the era of the familiar Maxen Wledig, what are we to make of these chronologically untenable events?  Is it possible these stories actually tell of events in the lives of two different Romans, both of whom have been rolled into a single hero? If so, who was the earlier man?
        Turning from the legends to recorded history, we find that Maximianus Herculius was the Roman Emperor in the west whose assigned territories included Britain, and that he ruled from 285 to 305.  However, during the years 286 to 296, Britain had been held by the usurpers Carausius and Allectus.  It was Maximianus's Caesar, Constantius Chlorus, and praetorian prefect Asclepiodotus, who finally regained Britain for the Empire.  For the Emperor himself to visit Britain between 296 and 305 was not only possible, but even probable.  He would have presented himself as the leader whose men he had sent to liberate Britain and indeed he added the title "Brittanicus Maximus" to his honorifics.  Could this Maximian be the third century "Maxen Wledig"?  Since he was born near 250 and never had his base in Rome, it seems doubtful the dalliance of a 50 year old Emperor with a virgin Welsh princess would be the stuff of legends.  
         It is more likely that he figures in the old stories as yet a third "Maxen".  His first assignment when raised to the purple in 285 had been to take up headquarters in Gual and put down a rebellion by the Bagaudae rebels.  This was the reason Diocletian promoted him in the first place, being unwilling himself to commit to a long campaign in the west while he was needed in the East to guard against the Persian threat.  It would be natural for Maximianus to first make a stop in Britain to augment his troops before entering into battle in Gaul.  Perhaps his legion commanders in Britain showed him how short-handed they were, with the normal compliment of 5000 men per legion now down to about 1000.[7]  Instead, he was introduced to the local tribal leader, a man named Eudaf Hen, who headed a large group of auxilliaries; men who were nominally civilians but trained to assist the legions in times of emergency.  We are purely conjecturing here, but this may have led to a large force under Cynan Meriadoc following Maximianus to Gual and being later rewarded by permanent lands in Llydaw.  It would also explain the relative ease by which Carausius seized power in Britain a year later; the Roman military assets remaining there were too few to effectively resist.  
        Moving forward again to the year 300, there was a son of Maximianus named Maxentius who lived in Rome and had been given senatorial rank but no military command.  Born about 279, he could easily have been sent by his father on a diplomatic errand to Britain to confer with the now aging Eudaf Hen, perhaps while his father was in York meeting with his second-in-command, Constantius Chlorus.  At the palace of Eudaf, young Maxentius was struck by the beauty of a 14 year old Elen who had been born to Eudaf shortly after 285.  He slept with the girl that night and went his way back to Rome.  The child of that night of passion was named Antonius Donatus, born about 301.  Thus, two events about 15 years apart which both involved Roman nobility called Maxen or Maxim became a single man in the subsequent telling of the story.  The third Maxen was still to come, emerging in history some 83 years later.
          Meanwhile, Maximianus Herculius retired in 305, attempted a return in 307/308 and was killed in 310.  His son Maxentius usurped the purple about 307 in Rome and was finally slain by Constantine the Great in 312.  His only legitimate son, Romulus, had died a young child.  Constantine effectively consolidated the Empire by 324 and finally died in 337.  The Empire was divided between his three legitimate sons, the youngest called Constans.  In the history ascribed to Ninnius[8], this man appears to be the "Maximus" who ruled Britain after Constantine. This may have merely been a title as in Britannicus Maximus. Constan's part of the Empire included Britain and he is known to have been present there in 343.  History assigns him no wife, but the Welsh pedigrees make him father to the Maxen Wledig born c. 345 whose full name was Magnus Maximus.  He rose to the purple in 383, invaded Gaul, killed Emperor Gratian and was himself slain in 388.  Thus we have our third "Maxen" whose activities were combined with the first two and reported by Geoffrey as though they were a single man. 
          While the old pedigrees name the wife of the final Maxen as Ceindrech ferch Reiden who was mother to his son, Owain, they also cite descendants of that marriage which would point to a birthdate near 365 for Owain.  If so, his mother would have been in her mid-30's when Maxen departed for Gaul in 383.  The only other mention of a wife of Magnus Maximus comes from the biographer of St. Martin of Tours.[9]  There, she is said to have attended the holy man almost constantly, even preparing his meals.  Her devout ministerings to Martin and apparent neglect of her husband's bed seem to describe a young maiden, not a middle-aged woman.  If Ceindrich had died before 383, or had been put aside when Maxen assumed the purple, he might well have been required to marry a British princess.[10]  Coel Hen was the chief tribal leader in 383; if Maxen married a daughter of his (perhaps even one named Helen or Elen) it would bear a striking resemblance to the Elen ferch Eudaf Hen of c. 300 and provide one more explanation why Geoffrey thought a single Maxen did all the things he reported. 
          Virtually all of our reconstruction of events is simply conjecture; history is silent on these matters.  But any accounts which fail to take chronology into consideration simply cannot be accurate.  If the events reported by Geoffrey occurred at all, they must have encompassed the lives of more than a single Maxen. We shall seek to identify the families of each of these men in the Harleian Ms 3859 pedigrees in our follow-up paper "Maxen Wledig and the Welsh Genealogies". 
[1] The old pedigrees actually make Eudaf "ap Caradog ap Bran ap Llyr" which would impossibly place him in the first century.  Probably this is one of the oft-seen cases where "ap" was used simply to mean "descended from".  By making him a son of Eunidd ap Gwrddwyfn ap Gorug Fawr ap Merchion Fawr Filwr ap Owain ap Cyllin ap Caradog ap Bran, his family will chronologically align with Arthfael ap Eunidd who ruled in Glywysing, a small kingdom near Gwent; both lands were held by Eunidd and divided among his sons.
[2] Most historians also identify this Caratacus with the son of Cunobelinus who engaged Claudius during his 44 AD invasion of Britain.  But that man was of the Catuvellauni tribe centered just south of London, while the Caratacus of AD 51 is wholly identified with the Silures of Wales.  The identification of his parents with names of old Celtic gods rather than their birth names allows one to guess that Bran was Cunobelinus, but that conjecture seems unwarranted.
[3] Bonedd yr Arwyr 27(a)
[4] http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/gene/bretonped.html (the estimated birthdates in this compilation are stretched beyond the breaking point in order to move Cynan Meriadoc to the fourth century)
[5] With life-expectancy in that era averaging 65 years or less, to bear a daughter after age 50/55 would seem to be an unreasonable assumption.
[6] Although doubted by historians, Geoffrey speaks of Eudaf Hen battling with a man called Trahaearn who he identifies as a brother of the father of Constantine's mother. This lady could not have been born later than 260.
[7] P.J. Casey "Carausius & Allectus", 1994, New Haven, pp 93
[8] Historia Brittonum, chapter 26
[9] Sulpicius Severus "Dialogue I - Postumianus" part 2, chapter VI
[10] Any number of Roman generals of this era had been required to put aside their wives and marry an Emperor's daughter before being elevated to the purple; since Magnus Maximus was made Emperor by the British themselves, marriage into the ruling family might have been required of him.